Loved learning about Paul Otlet in Alex Wright‘s excellent book, Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age. Otlet was truly a visionary!
“Twenty-five years before the first microchip, forty years before the first personal computer, and fifty years before the very first Web browser, Paul Otlet had envisioned something very much like today’s Internet.
Even more startling, Otlet also imagined that individuals would be able to upload files to central servers and communicate via wireless networks, anticipated the development of speech recognition tools, and described technology for transmitting sense perceptions like taste and smell. He foresaw the possibilities of social networks, of letting users ‘participate, applaud, give ovations, sing in the chorus.’ … He saw the possibilities of constructing a social space around individual pieces of media, and allowing a network of contributors to create links from one to another, much the way hyperlinks work on today’s Web.”
Also, great article by Alex Wright in The Atlantic